Corporate marketing and PR executives are often at odds with their public relations counsel about the critical evaluation metrics of what makes a public relations program valuable and accountable. The reality is that essential results must be mutually determined before a contract is signed.
While we all recognize that sales is the standard bearer for corporate success, the question that we ask prospects as well as clients on a regular basis is what are the transitional steps to get to the sale and whether success can ultimately be measured in getting the right message to the right people? The purpose of public relations is to create an opportunity and business atmosphere for purchase intent.
The only absolute certainty in the measurement of the value of a public relations campaign is to ensure that both the client and PR agency agree upon the criteria for success before the campaign begins: No delays or let’s sleep on it should be allowed. Some of the possible elements in the evaluation include:
- Detail what needs to be accomplished within the specific budget and time commitment so that the client and firm’s expectations are in line with each other. Achieve mutual agreement on the goals of the program: unaided awareness, SEO, social media, increased traffic to the website(s), sales intent, market share, etc.
- What research will be done and by whom to establish the value of the campaign via third party research, or agency analysis of the various metrics. This includes assigning numerical or grade values to coverage based on the type of story (stand alone feature, product review or round-up), tier of the publication or internet placement (national, regional or trade), were key messages included and did it reach the right decision makers based on feedback and sales inquiries.
- Continually explore (no less than quarterly) how each element in the marketing mix can be “manipulated” to add greater value and achieve a more distinctive outcome as a “work-in-progress”.
Sometimes there are very personal points of analysis. One CEO kept track of the number of A-level emails of congratulations (his most influential contacts) he received following major placements: a proprietary article in the New York Times topped his list. We understand that the bigger the company, the greater the challenge in analyzing results but there are methods to incorporate.